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I wasn't going to enter the Build Off this year, but I've changed my mind. I need to get creative and build something a little more custom to offset the semi-strict, mild restoration of another project bike I'm working on currently.

Here's what I'm thinking of throwing into the mix: my rusty, ant-infested, almost-destined-to-be-a-garden-bike of a Murray Meteor Flite I bought at a local swap meet back in April.
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I had thought about just slapping it together the way it looks to see if I liked the rust before I decided to strip it and paint/powder coat it, but that all changed when I found this seat for $2 at the Springfield, Missouri bicycle swap meet this past Sunday:
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I just had to see what it'd look like on the Murray, so I slapped it on...
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...and just like that, I was sold on the rust. I'm literally going to build this bike around this $2 seat! However, I'm going to try my darndest to build this bike just using what parts I already have, without spending any more money on it than I already have. The only exception would be for new tires and maybe truing the wheels, but I'm really going to push for keeping to the shoe-string budget I'm involuntarily stuck with. So that might mean using some tires that either don't have quite the look I really want, or worse, using tires that are cracked and nearly dry-rotted. Still, on a bike that looks like this, I think I could get away with it, provided I can ride it around the neighborhood at least.

I wouldn't have entered the Build Off, however, if I couldn't even disassemble the bike first. Amazingly, after spraying this bike down with PB Blaster (and ant killer,) I was able to loosen up every nut and bolt I needed to! The only real issue I'm facing now is that I don't have a solid project/build thread name in mind for this bike. The name I'm using for now is just a placeholder until I can think of something better. Still, I can worry about that later. I'm ready to start building!
 
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Love the idea of doing a ‘rust build’ with this bike. Get all the scaly rust off, give it a wipe down with boiled linseed oil and reassemble. That seat is a perfect match
Thanks! I don't have any boiled linseed oil though. This one will mostly stay au naturel. When I saw that seat at the swap meet, I knew I had to put it on this bike. It really is the perfect match for the bike!
 
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I've got more photos to share and more progress to report!
First, just to prove that this bike was... was... indeed crawling crawling with ants, here are a couple photos I took after one of several rounds of spraying ant killer all over the bike. Previous swarms had emerged from the rear wheel and bottom bracket area, but these ants came from the front wheel.
BftD_rusty_murray_rrbbo_2022_1.jpg
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Next, I made a great deal of progress in just a few hours today. I used a hair dryer and a plastic burnisher to remove the reflective stickers from the chain guard, tank, and headset of the bike. I'll need to use some Bestine to remove the leftover residue, if I can't find the can of Goo-Gone that apparently grew legs and walked out of the detached garage since the last time I saw it. Removing the stickers revealed that the bike used to be red and white. However, removing the stickers from the bike also made the areas they previously covered stick out even more. It's not so bad on the tank at least, but the spots on the chain guard and headset don't look right to me. I don't have any old school "STP" stickers I could slap over those spots, but I do have plenty of other stickers I could probably use instead to make those spots a little more attractive.
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After removing all the stickers I was most concerned about, I went ahead and took the bike almost entirely apart. Amazingly, I didn't snap a single nut or bolt in the process, despite how rusty everything is. I even got the fork screw that held the front fender in place to come off without even using PB Blaster! I didn't want to take everything apart though, as I still wanted to mockup a few parts. I'll try to get better photos of that tomorrow, since the room my bike stand is in doesn't have the best lighting, at least at night.
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One minor problem that I knew about before I even bought the bike was that the left rear dropout swoop was bent inward. After taking the bike apart, I found that, fortunately, it bends behind the dropout, so mounting the rear wheel isn't a problem despite the minor damage to the frame. Still, I'll probably try straightening it out with a hammer before final assembly.
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That's all the progress I have to report at the moment, but so far, everything's going better than expected!
 
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Sweet bike. Great selection. -I did a Sears version of that bike a few years ago. Freight Liner or something? Left the patina. Came out great. Regret selling it. -looked good, rode great. They are super nice bikes and very good looking.

look forward to seeing your progress.
 
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Sweet bike. Great selection. -I did a Sears version of that bike a few years ago. Freight Liner or something? Left the patina. Came out great. Regret selling it. -looked good, rode great. They are super nice bikes and very good looking.

look forward to seeing your progress.
Thanks! Got a link to the one you built? I'd love to see it. Murray sure knew how to make an attractive bike back then. I dare say I like more of their bikes than Schwinn's, at least when it comes to aesthetics.

Thank you! I've got more updates on the way!
 
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I mocked up a few more parts today to get a better idea of which exact direction I want to take this bike. First though, I wanted to shoot some better pictures of the first mockup I did last night.

Here was my first idea. I wanted to try some blackwall tires first, just to try something different. I knew I wanted a bigger tire in the back than up front, but I'm limited on the number of smaller tires I have at my disposal, as most of the tires that I have narrower than 2.125" are rather old and worn out. The rear tire is a 26" x 2.125" tire I got from my friend Allan just last Friday. I'm pretty sure that line is supposed to be pink, but with how it's faded and worn, it almost looks like a faded redline tire. As old as it looks, it's still a good tire. The front tire is a 26" x 1 3/8" tire that came with the wheel. What that wheel and tire came off of, I don't remember, but it's also a good tire.

As much as I liked this initial mockup, I didn't like that the diameter of the front wheel and tire almost looked bigger than the rear. It's not bad, but I had other, better ideas to try out.
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I'm going to need to replace the bearings and cups in the bottom bracket and headset. The existing ones are pretty shot.
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I also got a better look at the serial number. From what I can read of it, it says "MOT (don't know if those are 2 numbers) .... 884957.
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Another minor issue I've noticed on this particular style of handlebars is how one side always seems to sit lower than the other. Is it because of age, wear and tear, poor quality control on the manufacturer's part, all of those things, or something else? I don't get it.
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A close up of the remaining red paint on the headset. I'm considering covering it up or artificially aging it. Depends on what I can do myself, and how good I can make it look.
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Mockup #2. I swapped out the front wheel for one similar to the rear wheel, and put a 26" x 1.75" blackwall up front. A little better, but still not quite what I wanted. Doesn't help that the tire looks like it could come apart in less than a mile.
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As rough as these first 2 mockups were, they were still close to what I wanted to build. My next mockups however, would be much closer to the end result I really wanted out of this bike. That's coming up next!
 
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Thanks! Got a link to the one you built? I'd love to see it. Murray sure knew how to make an attractive bike back then. I dare say I like more of their bikes than Schwinn's, at least when it comes to aesthetics.

Thank you! I've got more updates on the way!
No problem!

Took a while to find! -although a different name plate, I think it’s the exact same bike as yours.

I used to do a lot of painting…… I’ve gotten spoiled with the ease and speed of boiled linseed oil. -it just takes worn, faded paint and rust and totally brings it to life.

the clean shiny stuff is great, but wow…. To me, nothing like a deep, rich patina. BLO will bring that thing to life. FAST.

careful though, it is flammable, particularly after use.

here’s my take on the bike with BLO.
 
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While I don't want to go too crazy with this build, I still dug through my collection of non-bicycle bicycle parts to see if there was anything I could use to spice up this bike. I came across this trim piece off of some Ford that looks like it'd fit almost perfectly between the top bars. I'd need to trim the mounting tabs to get it to sit flush with the frame, and I'd need to figure out some way to mount it nondestructively, but I'm curtain I could get it to work. If I could wrap the mounting tabs with some sort of rubber gasket that could squeeze in-between the top bars as a sort of pressure-fit, I think that would be best.
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On to the really good stuff. I installed two whitewall tires, one good and used, and the other... just used. The rear is a weathered but hardly-used 26" x 2.125" that I pulled off some freebie parts bike a while back, while the front wheel and 26" x 1.75" tire came off my Aunt Suzanne's Western Flyer Sonic Flyer that I currently have apart for a rebuild project. The wheel's good, the tube holds air, but the tire is practically junk. I love the look, but I may have to rob a newer used whitewall middleweight tire off one of my actually rideable bikes to make this bike safe to ride.
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I also had another idea to add a panel under the original tank. It's just a cardboard template for now, but I plan to make it out of one of the old wood boards I've collected over the past few years. I also had these lead numbers with nails I bought at a garage sale last year that I've been itching to use on a project. Given that I'm going with a raw, rusty, unpainted look for this bike, I figured these would look perfect on this bike. The "65" probably won't be the actual number I go with on this bike, but they do bear some meaning for me. $65 is the amount I paid for my first bike that got me into this hobby over 4 years ago.
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One more idea I want to try, mostly as an excuse to use up some pieces I've held onto for the past few years: a custom "headlight." I don't know if I'll actually make it actually light up or not yet, but I want to put something in front of the bike now that I took the fenders off. The main pieces I plan to use are a large fence post topper, an old VW emblem, and a bent spoon. The plastic "emergency exit sign" light lens probably won't make the final cut, but it's an idea.
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I found if I pulled the 3 mounting tabs out of the VW badge, the lip of the fence post topper fit perfectly inside the outer ring of the VW badge!
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Even better, the fence post topper fits almost perfectly inside the spoon, which would make for a cool mounting idea I want to try.
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Here's the idea: I'd mount the spoon to the fork using the screw that would hold the fender in place, and either glue or screw the cup of the spoon to the fence post topper. I'll then mount the VW emblem to the fence post topper, with something behind the emblem so it's not all hollow and empty behind it. I'll probably flip the VW badge upside-down so it looks like an "M" for "Murray." I might try aging the "headlight" so it blends in with the rest of the bike better, but that's a problem for later. I need to see if I can make the headlight first.
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While I'm still pretty early on in the development of this bike, I think this is ultimately the direction I want to take this bike. I'm still not going to go too crazy with the modifications, but I don't see anything wrong with a few "enhancements." And as one of my favorite custom car builders, Ian Roussel, likes to say, "every project needs a bit of Volkswagen in it."

Now that the primary mockups are out of the way, I'm going to dig through my sticker collection to see if there's anything good I can use to cover up those sore spots on the chain guard and headset. I'm also going to dig though some other odds and ends to see if I have the parts needed to make this headlight actually functional.
 
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No problem!

Took a while to find! -although a different name plate, I think it’s the exact same bike as yours.

I used to do a lot of painting…… I’ve gotten spoiled with the ease and speed of boiled linseed oil. -it just takes worn, faded paint and rust and totally brings it to life.

the clean shiny stuff is great, but wow…. To me, nothing like a deep, rich patina. BLO will bring that thing to life. FAST.

careful though, it is flammable, particularly after use.

here’s my take on the bike with BLO.
Oh yeah, I remember that one! Your's has the single top bar, whereas I got the twin bar. Still, it's pretty sharp! I'll go check it out.

I've never used BLO before. I think it works on some bikes, but I think others look better without it, in my personal opinion. I'm going to go without the boiled linseed oil on this build, partly due to budget constraints, mostly due to personal preference.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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